Bush claims success in Iraq

President Bush said Saturday that while political progress is moving too slowly on the national level in Iraq, positive steps in cities and towns are offering hope for future stability.

The Bush administration, facing a mid-September deadline to report to Congress on progress in Iraq, has long prodded the Iraqi government to finalize a national oil law, organize provincial elections and integrate former members of Saddam Hussein’s Baathist Party back into the central government.

In his weekly radio address, Bush acknowledged weak progress in these areas and instead highlighted strides being made at the local level, outside of Baghdad.

“Unfortunately, political progress at the national level has not matched the pace of progress at the local level,” Bush said in the broadcast taped at his ranch in Crawford, Texas. “The Iraqi government in Baghdad has many important measures left to address, such as reforming the de-Baathification laws, organizing provincial elections and passing a law to formalize the sharing of oil revenues.”

“As reconciliation occurs in local communities across Iraq,” he said, “it will help create the conditions for reconciliation in Baghdad as well.”

When Bush announced the buildup in U.S. troops in January, he also said the administration would double the number of provincial reconstruction teams in Iraq. These are units of U.S. civilian, military and diplomatic workers who help Iraqi communities rebuild infrastructure, create jobs and encourage reconciliation from the bottom up.

Bush cited Anbar province, where local sheiks joined U.S. forces in driving out terrorists. Bush said that today, the provincial council in Ramadi is back, and that last month, provincial officials reopened parts of the war-damaged government center with the help of a provincial reconstruction team.

“Similar scenes are taking place in other parts of Anbar,” the president said. “Virtually every city and town in the province now has a mayor and a functioning municipal council.”

Bush mentioned further examples:

  • In al-Qaim, tribal leaders, who turned against terrorists, now head the regional mayor’s office and the local police force.
  • In Muthanna, an overwhelmingly Shia province, the local council held a public meeting to hear from citizens on how to spend their budget and rebuild neighborhoods.
  • In Baqubah, six banks have been reopened.
  • In Ninewa province, local officials have established a commission to investigate corruption.

Despite the successes, the provincial reconstruction teams have been troubled by interagency disputes over funding, staffing and administrative support and security concerns.

“When things work — and they often do at the local or project level — they work in spite of a lack of any meaningful planning and management in Washington, or as yet in Iraq,” said Anthony Cordesman, an Iraq expert at the Center for International and Strategic Studies, who recently returned from a trip to the country.

“All have major problems in getting any action out of the central government and face a morass of local, provincial and tribal politics. The good news is that they are now being integrated with the military and are getting military support and protection, but it again is too early to judge what is really happening,” Cordesman said.

And even at the local level, progress is slow.

In his report to Congress earlier this month, the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction said rebuilding is being crippled by power plant problems, mismanagement, corruption and weak spending on capital projects by Iraq’s central government ministries and its provinces.

And in an audit released in July, the inspector general, Stuart Bowen Jr., found the Iraqi government has refused to take control of more than 2,000 U.S.-funded reconstruction projects since June 2006. That left U.S. officials to turn over the projects to local officials or to commit more money to keep them running.

Comments

  1. bryan mcclellan

    As Seal put it,change in focus won’t buy us a cup of Joe without a viable Iraqi government to take responsibility and control.Why don’t they tell the truth and openly say we are drawing back because we can’t prevent the civil war from escalating…Helen your point about the draft I agree with wholeheartedly especially the no exemptions part.Lets give the elite a chance to share the burden and see how fast they do a 180 when it comes to sacrificing their children.

  2. VietnamVet

    Seal,

    As usual, another great post! I have posted elsewhere that the days when generals cared more for their troops than their next star are long gone. And, from the current crop, it is not likely those days will return unless they are fired, retired, or deceased. I did not mention “have a change of mind” for that is snonymous with fired. Their stories are always cast in what they believe will better their chances of that next star! What a crop of star gazers!

  3. bryan mcclellan

    RE Seal :Green Zone Visits, Won’t Git It. I like you, ask this,Why is there not true representation(The common man/women)on the house floor when it comes to testimony which affects us all? What makes an individual who is insulated from the danger,utterly more qualified than one whose lived with it? To speak of the horrors of war, and openly before the American people conclude, how ,and in what manner said war should be conducted is not a task for the disaffected.How did our right to speak (or better yet) to be heard, get twisted into political and media born misinformation? All the while ,lives and hopes, and the dreams of our brethren lie at the feet of endless war?Bring these men to the forefront and Legion behind them,WE want to know, and we have the right to question.

  4. SEAL

    The campaign to continue the war is in full swing, now. The Generals dangled a new carrot by announcing they have “changed their focus” to a plan to reduce the number of troops and our combat role in 2008. They say they are negotiating with Jordan and Turkey to move some of our troops and equipment out of Iraq and turn security over to the Iraqis. I’d like to know how they will do that with no Iraq government. That’s the real problem. No Iraq government control of anything.

    Add to this that media coverage of the Iraq war and debate has dropped one-third in the last quarter. Out of sight – out of mind, right. I notice we are hearing more about Iran, lately. There will be other diversions.

    Watch the cross examinations of the Generals before the committee. That will tell you who is on what side. All it takes is a few dems to refuse to defund the war. The staged visits to the “war zone” have provided the justification for mind changing. In the past, I’ve witnessed these congressman/senator visits to wars zones. They were never shown what they should have seen. Only the good stuff for them. I doubt it was any different this time. Of course, safety is the excuse. I see a couple of dems have already offered their excuses.

    Looks like we will have another capitulation by the democrats this September. Why don’t the good democrats learn to play the game? They should bring those soldiers from the NYT article before the committee to rebut what the Generals will surely say. They stated exactly what I hear from my contacts there except they left out some of the more grahphic and inflamatory stuff. Obviously, these guys don’t plan on a military career.

    All the generals will give the committee is numbers and map areas and placating generalities and list successes that weren’t even caused by them or their surge. They will take credit for the Iraqis becomeing so fed up they took matters into their own hands. Successes that have occured by a return to the old ways of tribal rule and control of their enclaves.

    These Generals are the worst bunch of military whores I have ever seen and I have seen a few. The thing that infuriates us vets is that they have sold out the troops. That just isn’t done – ’til now.

  5. Helen Rainier

    SEAL and Bryan,

    I still maintain that the ONE thing that will STOP this fricking war immediately will be a reinstitution of the DRAFT with absolutely no EXEMPTIONS WHATSOEVER.

    In fact, about a year or so ago, this is precisely what Charles Rangel tried to do. He himself is a Korean Conflict veteran, and went through some pretty harrowing experiences himself in Korea.

    Needless to say, his attempt to reinstate the draft met with much stiff opposition. We saw what happened in the late 60s when there was a draft and the people revolted in the streets with demonstrations against our government and the protests of the students.

    I still believe, though it might be repugnant to a lot of people, that this is the BEST and QUICKEST SURE FIRE WAY to end this disaster.

    And, we should start with the draft-age children of all those legislators who support this fricking war but don’t want their kids to do their part — especially those chickens*its who crapped out during Vietnam — namely, Bush, Cheney, Rove (he has a college age son). We should also focus on the whiny pukes such as McConnell, Lott, McHenry, Graham, Blackburn — the whole damned bunch — they are taking older people now, so these guys should finally GIVE to their COUNTRY instead of TAKING from it, especially since they refuse to honor their Oath of Office to protect and defend the Constitution.
    ::: Rant Over — Stepping Off Soapbox :::